Berisha (tribe)

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Coordinates: 42°09′N 19°54′E / 42.150°N 19.900°E / 42.150; 19.900

Albanian bajraks (1918). Berisha is numbered 16.

Berisha is a historical tribe located in the region of Pukë in northern Albania, that is, one of the Malësor (or Malissori) tribes. Berisha is a Catholic tribe, said to be the oldest of all Albanian tribes. First mentioned in the 17th century, oral tradition traces their genealogy to the 14th century. A part of the tribe migrated to Kosovo and Skopska Crna Gora during the Ottoman period. Today, the surname Berisha is common in Kosovo Albanians.


The historical tribal area of the Berisha is located in the Pukë district, south of the Drin, west of Fierza, in northern Albania. The centre is the Sapaç river basin, flowing into the Drin. Berisha traditionally borders with Dushmani and Toplana to the west, Bugjoni to the north, Iballja to the east and Kabashi to the south.[1] The main settlements are Berisha e Vogël (Lower Berisha), Shopël and Berisha e Epërme (Upper Berisha), all tiny hamlets.[1]

Durham also published an opinion of Franz Nopcsa who stated that the Berisha tribe occupied a much bigger territory but were driven from its major part by the Thaçi tribe.[2]


The name of Berisha was recorded in 1691 as Berisa, on a map of Francesco Maria Coronelli.[3] Baron Nopcsa established that most of the Albanian tribes trace their origin to the 1450–1650 period.[4] It was claimed by Nopcsa that the name dated back to at least 1510.[5] According to Elsie, it is said that the earliest tribe is the Berisha,[4] whose genealogy tradition reaches back to 1360–70.[3] Edith Durham recorded at the beginning of 20th century that members of Berisha and Merturi tribe claimed they were the oldest highlands tribe,[6] which is accepted as accurate.[7]

Legends tell how in the 15th century the Berisha were in conflict with the Ottomans, and in particular, with the Muslim Albanian Kabashi tribe. The Ottomans were able to conquer virtually all of Berisha territory, with exception of the local church, with the help of the Kabashi. Some of the population was then exiled to the coast and other sent abroad to a place called Mahmur Dedi.[5] In ca. 1650, the Berisha lost much territory to the Thaçi tribe in skirmishes, mostly around Iballja.[5] Nopcsa noted that there was still much hostility between the Berisha and Thaçi.[5] In 1737–40 the Berisha was in a conflict with Mahmut Bey Begolli, who is said to have burnt the whole Berisha to ashes. He also seized the bell of the church of Berisha and took it as a booty and took many Berisha women and children as his prisoners. For these deeds, he was murdered by Osman Deda of Berisha and Gjonush Pali from Shllaku, both of whom were subsequently executed.[8]

In 1841, Nikola Vasojević estimated the Berisha to number 16,000, out of whom 4,000 men-at-arms, but Elsie notes that this very high number probably includes neighbouring tribes.[3]

The Austro-Hungarian census in Albania (1918) recorded 171 households with 1,013 inhabitants of Berisha.[3] It was later said that the population was 2,300.[3]

Migration to Kosovo[edit]

Many members of the Berisha tribe migrated to Kosovo, mostly to the region of Gjakova, and converted to Islam. According to British intelligence report, the reason for this migration was the small size of the territory this tribe controlled.[9] The feast of the Catholic Berisha who lived in villages around Peć was the Assumption of Mary (to which they refer to as Zoja e Berishes, or Zoja e Alshiqes, because the Alshiqi are the most numerous).[10] The family name Berisha is derived from the name of the tribe and is particularly common among Albanians in Kosovo.[11] In 1890 Islamized Berisha and Krasniqi in Kosovo allied against Albanian-speaking Catholics from Fandis and attacked their villages – they burned and plundered houses of Fandis, sparing only those of their Muslim lords.[12] In the 1920s, the whole Berisha tribe in Kosovo, under the leadership of Azem Galica, revolted against the authorities of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[13]


The Berisha are Catholic.[3] As opposed to other tribes of Puka, the Berisha were a fis, a community aware of blood-ties and common history back to an ancestor.[3] According to Elsie, they were indeed the only tribe that developed from a common ancestor in the Dukagjin region south of the Drin.[3]

According to local tradition, the tribe's legendary ancestor is a Kol Poga, the son of Pog Murri and grandson of Murr Deti.[5] According to Konstantin Jireček, the ancestor of the Old Kuči, Grča Nenadin (a Mrnjavčević), would be an ancestor of the Berisha tribe.[14] There are Berisha who claim that they hail from Kuči and were originally Orthodox, while others claim that only a part of the Berisha originate from Kuči.[15] Marko Miljanov wrote that the Kuči and Berisha were "regarded close", allegedly because the Berisha ancestors settled from Kuči;[16] if not kin by blood, Montenegrin and Albanian tribes regarded closeness in original or home territory from where someone "came". Therefore, the Kuči were "kin" to Kastrati, Berisha and Klimenti because their distant ancestor once, ostensibly, settled from Kuči.[17] The Berisha tribe and the Vušović family from Velika (in Montenegro) are taken to be kin.[18][19] According to some stories the Arrnji tribe in Luma is an offshoot of the Berisha.[20]

It is one of seven tribes of the Pukë highland and one of twelve tribes mentioned in the Kanun.


Members of the Berisha tribe who have tested their Y-DNA, so far belong to haplogroup E-V13 and one J2b2a-L283.[21] Within the Balkans both of these peak among ethnic Albanians.[22]



  • Berisha, 8 households in their own mahala (quarter) in Trstenik, Vitina (1979 source).[23]
  • Alshiqe, in Barani Valley (Lugu i Baranit), settled from Prekoruplje (1984 source).[24]
  • Alshiqe (former Kolgjonaj) (1984 source).[25]
  • Gecaj, two families in Llukë (1984 source).[25]
  • Berisha settled Donja Dubnica in the second half of the 18th century.[26]

Many Islamized Serbian families in Kosovo entered the fis of Berisha.[27][28] In 1967 it was recorded that Romani families in Podrima and in the Đakovica srez are under the fis of Berisha, as they are the most powerful in that region,[29] while Magjupi[where?] are under Berisha or Gashi.[30]


Johann von Hahn who travelled Kosovo in 1858, claimed that "almost all" of the Albanians of Skopska Crna Gora (Karadag) were Berisha, and recorded the Berisha clans of Asqur, Ali Shiça, Dodo, Murtur, Livosh, Kuç and Gec.[3]

  • Lisec, two families (1976 source).[31]


  • Berisha-Alshiqi (sr. Beriši-Alšići, or Aršići), 4 households in Dolja, Catholics, venerate Assumption of Mary. Migrated from Alshiqe, some before 1917, some before 1932 (1967 source).[32] In 1959 there was 1 household of the family in Dolja.[33]
  • Nikaj, 7 households in Dolja, Catholics, venerate Mas Jani, regarded a branch of the Berisha.[34]

Notable people[edit]

By birth
By descent

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elsie 2015, p. 183.
  2. ^ Mary Edith Durham (1928). Some tribal origins, laws and customs of the Balkans. George Allen & Unwin. p. 27. Retrieved 12 May 2013. The Berisha people state that they have always been in their present homeland. They formerly, says Nopcsa, occupied more, but were driven from Ibalja by the Thachi. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Elsie 2015, p. 184.
  4. ^ a b Elsie 2015, p. 6.
  5. ^ a b c d e Elsie 2015, p. 185.
  6. ^ Edith Durham (1987). High Albania. LO Beacon Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-8070-7035-2. Retrieved 12 May 2013. The people of Berisha and Merturi (the tribe on the other side of the Drin) claim to be the oldest tribes of the mountains 
  7. ^ I. M. Lewis (1970). History and social anthropology. Taylor & Francis. p. 254. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Elsie 2015, p. 186.
  9. ^ Miranda Vickers (1998). Between Serb and Albanian: a history of Kosovo. Hurst & Co. p. 50. Retrieved 12 May 2013. The same British intelligence report cited above states that the small size of the district belonging to the Berisha tribe 'caused many to emigrate, particularly in the direction of Djakovica to the North-West, where they occupy many villages. 
  10. ^ Bulletin of the Ethnographical Institute. 4–6. Naučno delo. 1957. p. 366. У овим селима Берише славе "Велику Госпу", коју зову "Zoja e Berishes", или "Zoja e Alshiqes" (пошто су Алшићи најбројније Берише) 
  11. ^ Elsie 2010, p. 48.
  12. ^ Hannes Grandits; Nathalie Clayer; Robert Pichler (15 May 2011), Conflicting Loyalties in the Balkans: The Great Powers, the Ottoman Empire and Nation-Building, I.B.Tauris, p. 200, ISBN 978-1-84885-477-2 
  13. ^ Dragi Maliković (2005). Kačački pokret na Kosovu i Metohiji: 1918–1924. Institut za srpsku kulturu. p. 140. Retrieved 12 May 2013. цело албанско племе Бериша било устало против југословенских државних органа под вођством Азема Бејте 
  14. ^ Konstantin Jireček (1923). Istorija Srba. Izdavačka knjižarnica G. Kona. p. 58. Retrieved 17 May 2013. По предању, родоначелник Куча био је Грча Ненадин, од чијих пет синова, Петра, Ђурђа, Тиха, Леша и Мара потичу њихова братства. Праотац Кастрата је Крсто, а Шаљана Шако; обојица су тобоже били браћа нареченог Грчина, док би Берише били потомци баш самога Грче. 
  15. ^ Akademija nauka i umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine. Balkanološki institut (1959). Djela. p. 96. Retrieved 17 May 2013. Има Бериша који веле да су старином из Куча и да су били православни. Друти веле да је само један Део Бериша од Куча, 
  16. ^ Miljanov, Marko (1967). Марко Миљанов целокупна дела/Сабрана дјела. II. p. 80. 
  17. ^ Jovićević, Andrija (1923). Малесија. Срп. етн. зборник XXVII. SANU. pp. 60–61. OCLC 635033682. 
  18. ^ Никола Чупић (1898). Годишњица Николе Чупића. Штампа Државне штампарије Краљевине Југославије. p. 127. Retrieved 18 May 2013. Исто се тако држе за једно племе Берише с Вушовићима из Велике. 
  19. ^ Brastvo. 30. Društvo sv. Save. 1939. p. 129. Тако, за једно се племе држе Берише и Вушовићи из Велике. 
  20. ^ Sir John Linton Myres; Harold St. John Loyd Winterbotham; F. Longland (1945). Albania. Naval Intelligence Division. p. 156. Retrieved 18 May 2013. ARRNJI, a tribe or clan in the Arrn district of Luma, said to be an offshoot of Berisha 
  21. ^ "Family Tree DNA - Genetic Testing for Ancestry, Family History & Genealogy". Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  22. ^ Battaglia, Vincenza; Fornarino, Simona; Al-Zahery, Nadia; Olivieri, Anna; Pala, Maria; Myres, Natalie M; King, Roy J; Rootsi, Siiri; Marjanovic, Damir (2017-05-24). "Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe". European Journal of Human Genetics. 17 (6): 820–830. ISSN 1018-4813. PMC 2947100Freely accessible. PMID 19107149. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.249. 
  23. ^ Milutin R. Đuričić (1979). Čuvari bese. Srpska akademija nauka i umjetnosti. p. 79. Окружни суд у Пећи осуди два сина А. Берише из Трстеника за убиство. Цело братство Бериша у Трстенику (махала од 8 кућа), бојећи се освете, било је у кућном притвору и очекивало најезду фиса ... 
  24. ^ Krasniqi 1984, p. 102.
  25. ^ a b Krasniqi 1984, p. 92.
  26. ^ Srboljub Đ Stamenković (2001). Географска енциклопедиjа насеља Србиjе: М-Р. Универзитет у Београду. Географски факултет. p. 266. ISBN 978-86-82657-15-6. 
  27. ^ Balcanica. 7–8. Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Balkanolos̆ki Institut. 1976. p. 324. Предак рода Жарк у Бичевцу се по поисламл>иван>у осло- нио не на CBoje сел>ане веЬ на арбанашке родове у суседним селима Раки и Дубрави и ступио у н>ихов фис (Берише) [...] ушли су у Берише, фис 
  28. ^ Serbian ethnographic series. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. 1965. p. 148. Поисламл>ени и поарбанашени српски род ]е Клопан (4 к.). Ушао ]е у Берише, фис 
  29. ^ Etnografski institut 1967, p. 85, "У Подрими и у Ђаковичком срезу Цигани се издају већином за Берише, јер је тај фис ...".
  30. ^ Etnografski institut 1967, p. 94, "Сви су Мађупи и издају се већином за Берише и Гашане. Две породице веле да су Битичи.".
  31. ^ SEZ 1976, p. 262.
  32. ^ Etnografski institut 1967, pp. 104-105, "Берииши-Алшићи (4 дом.) су дошли право из Алшића, неки пре 50, неки пре 35 година.".
  33. ^ Akademija nauka i umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine. Balkanološki institut (1959). Djela. p. 44. католици: родови Алшићи у Дољу (1 к) 
  34. ^ Etnografski institut 1967, p. 104.
  35. ^ . The Albanian Pra 4 nga politikanët më të rëndësishëm jeni nga një zonë? Nga një zonë, por Ramizi nuk është Berishë, është nga Fshati Kasaj …Hasani dhe Jahjaga janë Berishë.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)


External links[edit]